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April 26, 2017

Jimbo Fisher

Greensboro, North Carolina

JIMBO FISHER: Just finished up a very productive spring. First of all and foremost, guys will all be healthy when fall camp comes around, which will be good, and never lost anybody, which is always a big thing, but had a very physical, very tough spring. Kids competed very hard in practice. Thought we made a lot of progress in a lot of areas, and very happy with what we come out of spring practice.

It ended up a good recruiting cycle, and now we're going to start into the next recruiting cycle. Very good with where we're at. Have a great off-season. Still have a lot of work to do as a team. We have a chance to have a good team, but we're far from perfect and have a lot of things to work on this summer and fall camp.

But about where I thought we'd be at this time and still a work in progress to try and be the team that we can be.


Q. I know certainly filling in the shoes of a guy like Dalvin Cook, Cam Akers comes in with a ton of hype, and certainly seemed to live up to it this spring, how have you seen him kind of handle the amount of attention that he's gotten, and what about him makes you think he's kind of ready to not just be the guy who can run really well like Dalvin did but sort of handle the amount of focus and attention that's going to come on to him in replacing a guy that good with his much hype as he has?
JIMBO FISHER: Well, he's done what he's asked to do. But there's a lot of other guys in that mix. Jacques Patrick did a tremendous job, Ryann Green had a great spring, so we're counting on him very heavy, Amir Rasul, and then Cam had his times, too, along with Jonathan Vickers at fullback and Nabers. There was a lot of other scenarios in there. I mean, Cam come in, was very -- just went to work, never said anything, had good workouts, and still was productive, but so were some of the other guys. To say Cam is our guy is not necessarily -- we have a lot of guys in that group, and right now Jacques and those guys' experience are playing right there with him.

Q. Is the idea of replacing Dalvin sort of an overrated concept in that it's more that, again, you kind of expect that level of production to come from a number of places rather than some guy is going to step in and try to do what Dalvin did last year?
JIMBO FISHER: Well, Dalvin is Dalvin just like Dion was Dion, just like Buckley was Buckley, just like Warrick Dunn was Warrick Dunn, Charlie Ward was Charlie Ward. You'll never replace those guys. Jameis Winston was Jameis Winston. You know, I mean, you go in the history -- I mean, KB was KB. I mean, you know, Joiner was Joiner.

You never replace those guys, but you know, we also have other great players and things come from other areas. Sometimes they can come from the same areas. Not saying I think the guys we have at running back can be very productive, but Dalvin was a very special, unique guy and had his own talents. We have to let those guys grow and see and see where our team and our personality and those yards and scores come. They could come from the back or they could come from receivers, tight ends, throwing the ball. But hopefully the same production will be there as an offense.

Q. I was wondering, what's the balance for you as coaches knowing -- keeping the focus inward versus obviously a pretty huge opener when you're going to play Alabama down in Atlanta?
JIMBO FISHER: Explain the question to me again. I'm sorry. I'm keeping it inward -- I didn't understand what you meant, I'm sorry.

Q. Yeah, like keeping the focus on your team versus knowing that you're playing this big opener. How do you keep the focus on your team when you know you're playing that big opener against Alabama?
JIMBO FISHER: Well, and that's what we -- our culture is that. Our culture is to stay true to the process. We're not worried about results or our opponents. We have to worry about ourselves, control what we can control, and that's what we preach here every day. That's what we live here every day.

And you know, we play in big games at Florida State all the time. We've had big openers. We've had non-openers, we've had big bowl games, National Championship games, Conference Championship games. You know, that's -- when you play at a program like Florida State, you can't worry about that. You worry about what you can control, which is yourself and the process, which you're going to prepare to play those games and those competitions.

Q. So would you say that -- do you think fall camp there will be more or less the same urgency as there was with any other fall camp heading into the opener?
JIMBO FISHER: Yeah. Without a doubt. Because we had Ole Miss as an opener, we had Oklahoma State as an opener, we had Pitt as an opener. We've had major games to start off every year, and it's still one game. Doesn't matter. And then we have to play ULM, then we have Miami right after that. I mean, this is much bigger than a one-game season. We have to get our team ready to play a tremendous opponent, a league opponent. They've been tops in college football here for a while and done a great job. Nick is one of the best coaches in all of ball if not the best. I mean, they have great players. I mean, it'll be a great competition, but at the same time, we have 11 games after that, and we're looking forward to the competition, but at the same time, we have a lot of work to do to get ready for it.

Q. With the draft coming up tomorrow, there's been a lot of articles and reporting that there's character concerns with Dalvin Cook and NFL teams looking into that. I guess when you hear from NFL teams about those kind of things, how do you respond? What do you tell them about Dalvin's personality and how you interact with him --
JIMBO FISHER: Tremendous guy to coach. He's a very easy guy to coach. Great team guy. One of the hardest working guys I've ever coached. A great personality. Plays his tail off. I mean, he's not a superstar mentality -- what I'm saying, an entitled guy. This guy is a tremendous guy. Never had any issues with him. One of the best guys I've coached.

You know, the information out there, it's amazing the information goes in -- you can't -- to say that's out there, you don't know if it's false information in our world today, in the media, whether it's -- look at our elections, all the stuff that goes on in the elections. Look at that. You can't believe any of that stuff. You have to do your own research and your own decisions in that regard. Our media in that regard has gotten so crazy that it's -- anything that's said, anybody can throw something out there. Come watch the guy play, watch him practice, and he was a tremendous role model for us.

Q. I don't know if you saw, there was just a bizarre report from Sports Illustrated yesterday about like a runner agent trying to -- I guess the word was sabotage Dalvin's draft stock. Have you ever heard of anything like that before?
JIMBO FISHER: People do stuff like this all the time in the media. People falsify reports, say things. Yeah, I've heard of things like that, but again, do I know that's true or not? How do I know that's true? I mean, how do I know it's not true? How do I know it is true? I live in my own little world of what I see, what I believe, and I know what I had with him was a tremendous player. Would it surprise me if something like that happened? No, but it wouldn't surprise me if that wasn't true, either, so I don't put any stock in any of that stuff.

Q. I know week one is going to be a big challenge. Does your familiarity with Coach Saban kind of add to that? Is that maybe a little bit overstated, or is it really going to come down to execution when that game comes around?
JIMBO FISHER: Oh, it's going to be execution and doing what we do and them doing what they do. I mean, we know each other, but we haven't been around each other in a long time. They've had wrinkles, we've had wrinkles. I just know this: They'll be very well prepared and very well-coached. Hopefully we'll do the same thing on our end, and you have teams that go out there and play. I mean, he is a tremendous coach and they've got a tremendous program. Like I said, I mean, no one -- encompassing the time I spent with him was tremendous. He taught me so many things, and I learned so many things, and he does a great job. I mean, from that standpoint -- but I know this: They'll be prepared and play well, and we need to be prepared and play well.

Q. When was the last time you probably talked to Coach Saban, or do you anticipate talking to him much during the lead-up to the game?
JIMBO FISHER: I'm sure I will. I'll probably see him at the draft this weekend. We'll talk. We always talk when we see each other. I can't remember, maybe a month or two -- may have been a while -- I don't know. I'm not sure exactly we get going so much. But any time I ever want to call, I can call him any time or he can call me any time. Sometimes he's real busy and I'm real busy, but we have a great relationship, and I have tremendous respect for him. I mean, he's one of the great not only coaches now, he's one of the great coaches of all time.

Q. What do you leave spring ball most encouraged by, and is there a certain position area that you still kind of feel we need to shore this up, still some unanswered questions for August ball?
JIMBO FISHER: Yeah, all the positions (laughing). I'll say that right now. The biggest thing I was happy about was the competitive nature of our team, the physicality of our team, which we played with, the competitive nature, and I thought really had some urgency in trying to get better and do the things we did. I was very pleased in those areas.

When you have those characteristics, you just can get to where you've got to go. But I think we -- we're far from an elite team or a polished team at every position. We have a lot of things we've got to get cleaned up.

Q. How did the defensive end area progress during spring ball?
JIMBO FISHER: We've played -- they did some really good things, played the run well at times, had pass rush ability. Again, some things we've got to get cleaned up, too, but there's a good group of guys there for sure.

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